My first ever video!

Back in August I decided to try my hand at video editing. Obviously, I know nothing about it, and I used iMovie for the first time in my life, but I created something! And today I finally finished it and posted to YouTube (insert an image of me running around in panic).

This is my TBR/reading progress video for August. Naturally, I posted my August wrap-up back in September, but I thought I might still share this video. Do not judge me harshly – I am very new to this 😉

And yes it is a stop motion video! Because I wanted to create one in a long time.

My adventures in a Hugendubel store // German editions // Books

I love Hugendubel stores. No idea why. Maybe because I love book stores in general. I lovingly call Hugendubel  stores “bubble gum stores” (because of my inability to pronounce the name correctly XD). Every time I visit my friend in Munich, I go to one of those stores and browse for some time (hours). I have the most fun finding the books that I know and seeing the titles in German and the covers and how they compare to North American editions.

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I love this cover! I like the original English cover too but this one is rather similar and it has “Fox craft” as a title, which a title of the series. The title is translated as “the fox magic”. The English title is “The Taken”.

I really want this book! Because of the foxes naturally XD

Here are two more middle grade books. I know nothing about these but I couldn’t pass titles that mention musketeers, could I? 😉

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A huge section with Cassandra Clair books. I haven’t read those yet but I was excited to see different covers AND they kept English titles, which I found really curious.

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More foxes!!

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Andrew Smith’s novel “100 sideways miles” has almost the same cover as North American edition (only the horse is black) and the title is similar.

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Okay, e. lockhart’s “We Are Liars” turned into “Until We Lie”, which is very close. And “Eleanor & Park” is exactly the same title and cover.

But look at “Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon! That’s quite a change! It says “You Near Me” and below “And between us the whole world”. A two word title turned into a two SENTENCES title. Very confused.

I felt a bit like a dork running around, taking pictures of books and blabbing about everything to my friend (she is a saint).

I did buy two books! Here we go.

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I wanted to get something to read in German, as my knowledge has detiriorated quite a bit over the years. A friend on twitter suggested I buy this kids book “Emil und die Detektive” by Erich Kastner. And then I saw a quite decently sized paperback for only 4.99 euros! (Which is about 7CAD.) Percy Jackson book one “The Lightning Thief”. I have never read any of Rick Riordan’s books and perhaps it is time to start.

My TBR list is insanely long, so I honestly don’t know when I will get to reading those books, but I am being hopeful 🙂

September Wrap-up & Reviews

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I am horribly behind on my bookish blog posts, but I had very busy two months.

Here is my TBR list for September. I am really proud of myself – I managed to read quite a few books (almost all of my TBR list) even though I was watching movies at TIFF almost every day.

I loved most of the books I read in September. I planned to write review for every single one of them, but I think I will just post them all in this blog post. All of my reviews can be found on my GoodReads page too.

  • Sharon Cameron “Rook”
  • Nina LaCour “Everything Leads To You”
  • Melissa Landers “Alienated”
  • Libba Bray “Beauty Queens”
  • Courtney C. Stevens “Faking Normal”
  • Becky Albertalli “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda”
  • Patrick Ness “More Than This”
  • Jay Cantor, James Romberger “Aaron and Ahmed” (graphic novel)

REVIEWS:

“Rook” by Sharon Cameron

Personal rating: 4.5 stars

I started reading “Rook” in August for Perustopia Book Club and it took me by surprise, as I enjoyed it way more than I expected. It is a perfect blend of dystopian fantasy and adventure narratives (spies and intrigue). The romance in it was well written and not too obnoxious and I must say I really liked the main character, Sophia. She is smart and adventurous and I loved it. She also has a pet fox called St. Vincent!

The world is well built and quite unique.

Some moments were a bit predictable but I thoroughly enjoyed it and the ending was just perfect. I really would love to read more books like that. I am both relieved and upset that this is a stand alone novel. One one hand, I would love to read more stories about this world, but on the other hand – it is perfect as it is.

“Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

Personal rating: 5 stars

Ok, but where has this book been before??? It is perfect and I would have been thrilled to have it in my life as a teen!

The plot revolves over the email conversation between Simon and Blue, his incognito friend whom he befriended via Tumblr and developed a strong connection to. (Sound familiar, eh?) They don’t know each others identities but they go to the same school. Simon is being blackmailed by another classmate who wants to date a girl, who is Simon’s friend. In spite of serious topics of coming out, discovering oneself, first love, social media, privacy (something which becomes more and more important in modern age) it is a very lighthearted novel, which gave me a warm feeling when I finished reading it.

The plot reminded me of a book by German writer Daniel Glattauer called “Gegen Nordwind”. It has a similar plot twist, in which a man and a woman start emailing each other by a pure accident and fall in love. The whole novel is constructed of emails and it is an adult fiction.

“Simon” is a sweet YA book, which is a very easy read – I read it like in less than two days – and would definitely appeal to many teens (and adults). The ending was just perfect, and even though I sort of guessed Blue’s identity before Simon, I thought that their first meeting was perfectly executed.

Definitely worth reading.

“Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray

Personal rating: 3.5 stars

(I was about to give it even less stars, to be honest.)

My first reaction after reading the first two pages was “what the hell is going on there?!”. I was very confused, the book seemed to be a joke. I couldn’t understand why so many booktubers were raving about it.

I took a breath and went back to reading it.

Listening to reviews of this book I didn’t expect it to be what it is, a humorous, even satirical YA novel. Nobody said, oh by the way, it won’t make any sense because it is not supposed to make any sense. Every was just raving about how cool it is, and how great it is about diversity and representation. Well, yes, it is all that. But the genre and the plot irritated me.

I am not a fan of funny books. I mean, there is serious fiction and there is humorous fantasy, but even that is not my thing unless we are talking about the likes of Terry Pratchett, and there are those cute girly novels about shopaholics and cute girly problems that have cute covers with lots of pink on it. I shudder at the thought of reading one even as I type it.

Thank goodness, “Beauty Queens” is not a funny and cute  book, even though it is about beauty queens/pageant contestants. Once I wrapped my head over what this book was NOT, I realized that it had lots of witty referrals to pop culture and stereotypes.  Those were funny.

But for the most part it was rather tedious to read – I barely paid attention to what was happening. I didn’t like the plot which for all its twist reminded me of a gender bender “Lord of the flies” novel mixed with a generic Family Guy episode. I kept reading the book because I had nothing better to do while queueing to see some movies and I liked the diversity of the characters and I wanted to know who would survive at the end (spoiler alert: not all deaths turned out to be real deaths, but rather cartoonish ones).

Lots of people seem to like Libba Bray books. Perhaps, I picked the wrong book to get introduced to her writing. I understand that this book has its own merit, but it is just not my thing.

p.s. This book will stay in my memory as I spent hours in rain, shielding myself with an umbrella and freezing, queueing to see movies. It was the only entertainment that saved me from hours of utter boredom.

“Everything Leads To You” by Nina LaCour

Personal rating: 4 stars

It is a lovely book. It was a rather easy to read, although at times it was not as engaging as I hoped it would be. A very sweet story which fit perfectly into the atmosphere of the film festival that I was attending while reading it. I loved all the bits about the film production.

It is that type of the book that you would want to read on a deck with a cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. Well written and very sweet. Wish there were more books like this.

Can’t give it 5 stars just because it was not as fast paced as I would have preferred it to be.

p.s. I love the cover but I still don’t understand who is portrayed on it? Because Emi is not white and Ava is a redhead, and the girl on the cover is white and blond. Even though the cover is very dreamy and I like the typography, I am still a bit confused.

“Alienated” by Melissa Landers

Personal rating: 4.5 stars

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did! In a way, it is a cliched YA romance story, but on the other hand it has an interesting plot idea and it is a sci-fi novel. It has some elements that usually make me roll my eyes, but in this book it sort of works. Perhaps, because Melissa’s tone of narration is rather light and there is no unnecessary drama (for the sake of drama).

An alien exchange student arrives to live with Cara, and everyone seems to be quite taken with the guy, but she is not. Until she gets to know him better and falls in love with him. Only that her new friend didn’t want to be on Earth in the first place and is trying to sabotage the whole operation, and while trying to do so discovers something shocking.

The book has a couple of cheesy moments (sometimes Cara’s parents act like teenagers themselves), but otherwise it has a solid plot and an interesting premise. I am quite looking forward to reading the sequel, Invaded, this month. It was a fun read!

“More Than This” by Patrick Ness 

Personal rating: 5 stars

(I would give it 10 if I could!)

This is the second book by Patrick Ness that I read and absolutely loved! It has everything that I love in it: a bizarre plot, angst, heartbreak, hope, and coming of age.

Seth drowns and dies. But only then he wakes up, naked, by an empty house that looks just like the one from his childhood in UK, in a city that has no people in it. The whole book is intercepted by his memories of his life before up to the moment of his death.

I must say that some of the moments in the book (the ones that led to his death) made me tear up a bit.

It is a wonderful novel. It is creepy at times and heartwarming at others. It has a bizarre, Matrix kinda style twists. I couldn’t put it down. I want this book. I want to own this book.

I also want to know what happened after. Because that ending, Mr. Ness, was cruel!

There is nothing else I can say about this book except for – read it now!

“Faking Normal” by Courtney C. Stevens

Personal rating: 4 stars

It is a very well written book on a very difficult topic – abuse, its consequences and perceptions related to it, as well as mental health.  The book addresses several very important points, and I think the author did a great job writing about it in two clear teenaged voices affected by abuse.

I can’t say I loved the book, as I can’t love anything related to the topic of abuse (and other horrors), but it was very well written and I really enjoyed reading it. And if it ever has a sequel (although the story is completed), I will read it gladly.

The main twist of the otherwise uneventful narrative was who of the guys mentioned in the books is the culprit. Let me tell you: I didn’t see it coming. But the way it was resolved at the end and the way the main character, Alexi, was dealing with the consequences of the event that had changed her life was written very well.

It is not an easy and fun book to read, but it is something that I would love more people to read because of its message.

Well done, Courtney. I hope to read more books by you in the future.

“Aaron and Ahmed” (graphic novel) by Jay Cantor, James Romberger 

Personal rating: 3 stars.

I posted my review on GoodReads before I wrote this post. Can’t say I enjoyed this novel. I can’t even say why I gave it 3 stars at all.

[EDIT]: I forgot that I read one more book in September! It was an ARC for “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” book by Martina McAtee. I read it on Kindle and it completely slipped my mind. You can read the review on GoodReads. I must say, the cover is so gorgeous!

I read total of 8 books and 1 graphic novel in September. A good reading month!

September TBR // September 7, 2015

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Under a spell of temporary insanity, I decided that these are going to be all the books I will read in September. Considering the fact that September 10-20 will be devoted to TIFF (and my schedule there is pretty intense), this TBR pile is overly ambitious. Or outright crazy.

Nevertheless, I am excited. I have heard great things about these books, and I am super pumped about some of these (I’d say probably about the books on the right). I understand that there is a very high chance I won’t have time to read even half of these, but I will try my best. Almost all of them were picked from the library, so I will just go in the order of which books are due sooner. (Worst scenario, I will just read the rest of the books in October.)

I have already started reading Margaret Atwood’s collection of short stories, as you know. I am reading one story at a time, whenever I fancy it, so this book will be featured in my TBR piles until I am done with it.

I am 70% done with Rook and I love it. I thought I’d finish it in August, but August was a pretty busy month for me.

So here’s the list:

  • Sharon Cameron “Rook” [still reading – almost done]
  • Margaret Atwood “Moral Disorder And Other Stories” [I started it but I am still reading]
  • Kelley York “Made of Stars”
  • Stephanie Kuehn “Charm & Strange”
  • Nina LaCour “Everything Leads To You”
  • Melissa Landers “Alienated”
  • Libba Bray “Beauty Queens”
  • Courtney C. Stevens “Faking Normal”
  • Becky Albertalli “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda”
  • Patrick Ness “More Than This”

Eight books to read if you don’t count Rook and Atwood. That’s crazy! But I am super excited.

If you are going to see movies at TIFF this year and see someone reading one of those books in the line, that will probably be me. ;D

 

August Wrap-Up // September 4, 2015

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So, here is the list of books I read in August:

  • Andy Weir “The Martian” (my review)
  • Charles Bukowski “Absence of The Hero: Uncollected Stories and Essays Vol.2 1946-1992” [I didn’t really like it as much as I expected]
  • Margaret Atwood “Moral Disorder And Other Stories” [I started it but I am still reading]
  • John Green “The Fault in Our Stars” (my review)
  • Vera Brosgol “Anya’s Ghost” (my review)
  • Andrew Smith “Grasshopper Jungle” (my review)
  • Patrick Ness “A Monster Calls” (my review)
  • Sharon Cameron “Rook” [still reading – almost done]
  • Justin MacCormack “Twilight of the Faerie – Book 1: Spring” [the ebook I was sent to review – my review is on GoodReads]

Compare it to my planned TBR list.

I didn’t read “Shiver” by Maggie Stiefvater as I really want to marathon the whole series, but I still haven’t bought book 3. I also started but haven’t finished Margaret Attwood’s collection of short stories. But I did read one eBook which was not on the list and I almost finished “Rook”, so it was a really good reading month! Almost all of the books I’ve read were fantastic!

But if I have to choose, The Martian, A Monster Calls and Grashopper Jungle are my favourite reads of the month.

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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There was so much frenzy surrounding this book and the movie, that I finally decided to pick up. I had my reservations about it, as the topic of cancer is very sensitive for me personally, and I was very wary. I worried that the book would be cheesy, or would gloss over some aspects of the disease, or that it would be just too difficult to read.

Somehow (and I still don’t know how) I managed to avoid any spoilers regarding the ending. That is why what happened at the end, that death, came as a total surprise to me. (Yes, I must have been living under the rock, because I didn’t see that one coming.)

I am not going to go into many details, as pretty much everyone knows what this book is about. Let me tell you about the things that I liked about this book.

When you face something as scary and huge as a terminal illness, after the shock wears off, you sort of accept it and it becomes part of your life. You become, for the better word, desensitized. You joke about it, you joke about death, about dying. Perhaps, it is a way for our brains to cope with it. This part of the book, from the perspective of all characters, was written beautifully. I know that some may think that it was too “teenager-ly”, too playful or exaggerated at times, but it is not. This is how it is. This is how teenagers would be dealing with it (with laughter and hookups and egging somebody’s car). Or anyone else for that matter.

Descriptions of medical procedures, hospitals, emotional strain and exhaustion of both the main character and her parents – they were described to the point. When you see someone you love dying from cancer and you know you can’t do anything to help them, and everything which is done, medically, just prolongs the torture – yes, at some point you just think: God, I just want this to be over with.

A trip to Amsterdam was an unexpected treat, as I love that city.

Being disappointed in someone whom you used to admire tugged at my heart strings no less than the rest of the novel.

The book has several great passages that I saw quoted before, so kudos to John Green for not only breaking the hearts of teenagers but also creating memes.

I liked the book. I didn’t love it, because I can’t imagine ever loving a book about cancer. It was well written, although I admit that at some points I kept thinking that it was a bit too commercial novel. Nothing about this book could do wrong for readers, and it by all means just HAD to be made into a movie. I am not saying there is anything wrong in writing such a book (or recognizing the gap in the market for this sort of a story), but I admit that at certain tear jerking times I was almost rolling my eyes, as those moments were way too predictable for me.

I was a bit indecisive regarding the rating, as it is a good book, and I strongly recommend it for teens (not because of the love drama, but because the matters of life and death are important), but I just can’t give it the top rating.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

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This is the weirdest YA book I have ever read. (Well, it is not as gory or dark or weird as Poppy Brite’s novels, as it is still YA, but it is right up that alley if you take one of her books and make it funny and light as opposed to heartbreaking.) But what can I say – I loved it.

It is written in the first point of view and there are some recurring topics as well as even recurring sentences that may seem slightly weird but it all works together. Two best friends, a small town in the middle of nowhere, a strange, long time ago abandoned experiment. It is difficult to summarize the book without giving away the plot (or the plot twist at the end which I totally should have seen coming, but I didn’t, because just like the main characters I was caught in the moment).

It is a weird story but it is also a very touching one. Besides all the weirdness which is happening (and if you are not squeamish and are not afraid of bugs – believe me, you will be) this book is also a coming of age story (which includes exploring one’s sexuality, talking or thinking about sex 24/7, and smoking – you know, the usual).

This books has a great line which resonated with me greatly. Page 162. You know what I mean. It is probably one of the most accurate descriptions of bisexuality that I have ever read.

I don’t want to spoil this story to anyone, but I just want to say that this book taught me two things:

1) adolescent boys are always horny

2) bugs only do two things – eat and fuck.

My advice: do not read this book while dealing with bug infestation – it will make your skin crawl big time. This is book not for everyone, but I loved it.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Book Review: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

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I usually do not read graphic novels. It is hard for me to find a book with graphics that I really like, and I in general prefer books with more text. The only graphic/comic series that I have ever read, and loved, and am still reading is ElfQuest.

I saw this book recommended on BookTube and I was sort of intrigued. I picked it up from the library, as I didn’t want to buy something that I was not going to read again. I decided to read it this morning while having a coffee and it was the quickest and the easiest read ever. I read in about an hour. I think it can be either classified as a middle grade or YA.

I enjoyed the graphics (they are sort of grey-blue, which I like) and the story is very curious. It is about a girl Anya, who struggles with her appearance, the fact that she is not popular at school, that she was not born in America (she is Russian and the book is peppered with some cultural differences/references/Russian words), that she has a crush on a popular guy; she smokes because she thinks it is cool, she tries really hard to fit in, etc. One day she falls into a hole in the ground. There, she meets a ghost of a girl named Emily. The ghost follows her home and wants to be her friend. Anya is excited, because Emily is really helpful, but soon it is starting to become overwhelming.

I found Anya to be a very likeable character, and it was very easy to relate to her, especially for me personally. I think it is a great and easy read and I highly recommend it. I hope that the author will release more books like that.

Rating: 5/5 stars.

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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I didn’t know much about this book. I saw it recommended on booktube and it sounded really interesting. I got it from the library (had to wait 3 weeks, for some reason) and was surprised to see that it is not too thick and has illustrations. I read it in one sitting, after finishing The Fault In Our Stars, which probably wasn’t such a smart move, seeing as there is an recurring theme of cancer (which I didn’t know about “A Monster Calls”).

But I loved this book so damn much.

It has a wonderful, unique story and absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Everything is black and white which adds to the atmosphere. The story is about a boy, Conor, who lives with his sick mother, and one day he is visited by a monster in the middle of the night. The boy is not scared, because even though it is a monster, it is not THE monster from THE nightmare. The monster tells him three stories, but Conor has to tell him the fourth. There is also an estranged father and a grandmother, with whom Conor has trouble connecting.

I can’t say much because it will reveal the plot, but it is a gorgeous book, very touching, deep, emotional, and very captivating. Not to mention the art. THE ART. It is not a graphic novel, but the illustrations play a huge part, wonderfully adding to the narrative. If I had to define the genre, I’d say it is YA with magical realism elements.

I really want to own this book now. I really really want to.

But yes it should come with trigger warnings.

Rating: 5/5 stars.